Cardinal Reinhard Marx celebrated a Mass marking “20 years of queer worship and pastoral care” in Munich, southern Germany, on Sunday.

The archbishop of Munich and Freising offered the Mass on March 13 at St. Paul parish church, near Munich’s Theresienwiese, where the annual Oktoberfest is celebrated, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Speaking at the Mass, the cardinal said: “I desire an inclusive Church. A Church that includes all who want to walk the way of Jesus.”

He added that a synodal Church means being open, learning, and always breaking out anew in faith, in the search for the “possibilities of God,” as well as “in the question of what we have to say about sexuality and what we have to say about people’s relationships.”

The 68-year-old prelate, who is a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers, also said: “The kingdom of God is to discover that God is Love — in all its dimensions.” This included the sexual dimension but was not limited to it, he added.

“All human relationships must be marked by the primacy of Love. Then they can be accepted by God,” he said.

Marx, who is also president of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy, criticized what he called discrimination “from Christians against the homosexual community,” saying he was “shocked that this is ongoing.”

Everyone had a right to their own views, the German prelate added, “but the recognition and the primacy of Love I cannot put at issue as a bishop.”

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He called for a “dynamic of openness” that should characterize the “Synodal Way” of the Catholic Church in Germany, saying that this was what Pope Francis meant when he emphasized the value of going forward to “discover what the Spirit has to say to us today.”

After the Mass, a “non-public reception with representatives of the queer community and Cardinal Marx” was held, according to a March 7 press release.

The archdiocese noted that the “men’s pastoral care service of the archdiocese offers dedicated weekends for gay, bi and trans men, and there are other programs on offer in the area of the department of family and adult pastoral care such as retreats for LGBTI.”

The archdiocese quoted a project leader as saying: “Rainbow ministry sees itself as a service to the reconciliation of the Church with the LGBTI community. It works to resolve theologically those traditions and Church structures that in the past have led or still lead to the discrimination and devaluation of LGBTI persons, in order to overcome them.”

The Munich archdiocese’s goal, it said, was for “LGBTI people to experience appreciation throughout the parishes of the entire archdiocese” and find programs “about their life situation, in which they feel accepted and taken seriously as people and members of the Church.”

A number of German prelates have called publicly for changes in the Church’s stance on homosexuality. There have also been similar appeals in neighboring Austria.

German bishops who have so far publicly voiced support for blessing same-sex unions include Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, and Bishop Heinrich Timmerervers of Dresden-Meißen.

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Bishop Georg Bätzing, the president of the German bishops’ conference, called in December 2020 for changes to the section on homosexuality in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992 as an authoritative guide to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

According to CNA Deutsch, Bätzing said that he believed a change to the Catechism was necessary, expressing openness to blessings of homosexual unions, saying “we need solutions for this.”

The Catechism states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

It continues: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

It concludes: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”